I remember talking last semester to this Egyptian girl who wore a head veil and I asked her why she wore one because it always puzzled me. Her response was that she wore it not because she was forced to but because it was a her choice and it showed the relationship between her and God. She went on to explain that a lot of women choose to wear a head veil, whether it be a hijab, a burqa, etc., because women want to be seen not by their feminine beauty but by their other values such as their intelligence or their strength. Up until that point, I completely thought that women were forced to wear a head veil as a sign of oppression by men.
Which leads me to my next point.
I was in women’s group today and we were talking about three chapters (beauty, modesty and impurity) of A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. What we were able to get out of these three chapters were that inner beauty is what counts the most, but we tend to forget that in today’s modern society. I see sentences like “you’re beautiful” everywhere from Facebook to post-its stuck on a girl’s mirror. Women today have the tendency to believe they are beautiful, but I think that the beauty they are referring to and thinking about is molded by the society.
Today’s standards of beauty portray women to be thin and preferably have blue eyes and blonde hair. That is the ideal woman. And yes, standards of beauty has evolved over the years, but the point I’m trying to get at is timeless. What I have stated above—the points of “beauty”—are only appearances. What about inner beauty? Doesn’t that get to have a say in what makes a person beautiful, too?
Sometimes it irks me so much to see a woman to believe the phrase “you’re beautiful” but in the blink of an eye, in the turn of her head, she is ready to judge another woman’s appearance, whether it be her clothes or her hair or anything else.
I’ve been the subject of a mild form of bullying when it comes to beauty. I’ve dealt with it internally and externally. Internally, I beat myself up over the fact that my face isn’t as clear as I’d like it to be. Ever since sophomore year of high school, puberty has hit me hard and I grew pimples all over the place; add the fact that I have no self control and what I get are scars on my face and they are still not gone.
Externally, I remember this one instance where this girl, L, had a bright red pimple on the middle of her forehead and some of her friends jokingly made fun of her for it. When I went with L to get some breakfast for the group, I tried to console her by saying that it’s okay, look at my face. Basically, I made fun of myself to make her feel better. And what do I get in return? She says something along the lines of “oh, but you have a lot more, so it’s okay. My face is a lot more clear so of course it’s very visible.”
Was I butthurt? At the time, no. But after a week or so and thinking back about it, I got very angry. I was upset that I took that blow without even realizing it was an insult. I was upset that I wasn’t able to say something back to her, to defend myself. Now, I honestly have no idea why I was so revved up about her comment. Maybe it’s because I’m more mature than I was in my freshman year of college, but I am starting to care less about what I look like on the outside and more about how I’m like on the inside.
What I’m trying to say is that while I do understand that society is emphasizing more on outer beauty, more steps should be taken towards promoting inner beauty.